UPDATE: Bergenfield great-grandfather Albert Schnellbacher would’ve celebrated both his 93rd birthday and his 66th wedding anniversary along with his wife and family on Saturday, March 4.
Instead, his loved ones are preparing for what could be the trial of a Franklin Lakes businessman who a grand jury said was responsible for killing the family patriarch in a car crash in Teaneck last summer.
The grand jury in Hackensack returned an indictment this past week charging Scott Lieberman, 61, with recklessly causing Schnellbacher’s death, family members said.
If convicted, Lieberman could face five to 10 years in prison, 85% of which he’d have to serve under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act.
An arraignment date hasn't yet been set.
Lieberman was driving a brand-new 2022 F8 Ferrari Spider that T-boned Schnellbacher’s 2008 Chevy Equinox on Briarcliffe Road at the intersection of Windsor Road in Teaneck last June 25.
Lieberman told a township police officer that he saw the SUV at the stop sign at Briarcliffe, according to an accident report that Teaneck police filed with New Jersey State Police and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office.
Lieberman reportedly said that Schnellbacher then drove into the intersection attempting to make a right turn onto Windsor.
At that point, Lieberman said, he was “unable to avoid (the) collision.”
Schnellbacher – a retired New York City schoolteacher who’d taught at P.S. 28 in Manhattan -- was unconscious and not breathing when taken to nearby Holy Name Medical Center, authorities said at the time.
He was pronounced dead a short time later, they said.
Lieberman sustained injuries to his elbow, arm and hand, according to police. A Bergenfield woman who was with him reported knee, leg and foot injuries. Both were treated at a local hospital before being released.
Eric Schnellbacher said his father was still “of sound mind and good physical condition” when the crash occurred, he noted.
“The slight curve in Windsor Road just before the intersection may have prevented either driver from seeing each other,” Schnellbacher said. “However, at high speed the Ferrari may have overtaken the distance between them after the curve before either driver could react to avoid the high-speed collision.”
An exhaustive and lengthy investigation by Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella’s Bergen County Prosecutor’s Fatal Accident Unit led to a second-degree reckless manslaughter charge that the grand jury supported.
Lieberman was jailed after being charged last Oct. 5. A judge in Hackensack released him the following day.
"We’re prepared for this and will patiently wait for some sort of justice eventually," Eric Schnellbacher said on Friday. "This is how the system works.
"Meanwhile, we’ll all continue to live our lives -- as that is what he would have wanted us to do -- and keep him alive in our memories."
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